Cayuga Lake out of Long Point State Park 4/22 – 4/25
I had a busy week of guiding lake trout on Cayuga Lake. Fishing remains good to very good (by Cayuga standards – it would be very good to excellent by other lakes’ metrics.) Best action for us remains deep – generally 140′ + although we have seen fish shallower, and some people are catching lake trout out to 200′ FOW or more. The big change I’ve noticed this week is that fish are feeding heavily. This is the time of year that lake trout do their heaviest feeding. Most fish are absolutely packed with alewives and I’m seeing a few different year classes of these baitfish – ranging from 1+1/2″ young ones up to 5″ fish. I’m seeing a fair number of healed lamprey wounds on fish, but virtually zero fresh wounds. Wild fish numbers remain low – 5% or so.
4/22 AM: Guided Jack today. He was out with me last month and he did well. He fishes for the table and usually will take a limit and then do a little catch and release. He usually ends our trip a little early depending on the action. His main lake is Oneida and he reported surface temperatures of 43 degrees there earlier in the week. That’s very cold for this time of year.
We had a great double-digit day with plenty of fish dropped as well. He had two fish that ran 31″+, so that was great. We fished one or two areas and barely moved all morning.
Jack with two beauties!
Despite the heavy wind forecast, it wound up being a gorgeous day out there with some great fishing to boot. Some loons were also on the water which makes fishing even a better experience.
4/22 PM: My afternoon (actually 11:30 am) trip wound up being with Ed and his significant other, Kate. I picked them up at Dean’s Cove and we headed back across the lake. Ed is the source of the Fingerlakes Angling Zone’s famous “stepladder” story, for those in the know. Fishing was a bit slower for us to start. Around a half dozen fish were dropped and another half dozen landed. The two fish I cleaned were full of alewives.
Kate hooked up!
Kate holding one
4/23 AM: My morning trip was with Jamie, who started his drive over at 1 am! He loves jigging lake trout and has spent time catching them on Cayuga, Owasco, Canandaigua, Lake Champlain and Lake George. We started at 7:30 am and fishing was a bit slow although he nabbed a couple. The bite picked up later on and we wound up with another solid double-digit day. Around 30 boats were out jigging trout. That’s as many as I’ve probably ever seen out there. It was a bad weather week for the most part, plus a lot of guys are publicizing the fishing on social media. Once Seneca Lake’s fishing gets back on track, pressure on Cayuga should diminish a bit.
Jamie hooked up! Lots of boats out in the distance...
4/23 PM: My PM crew was Titus, Kirvan and Leverne (I hope I spelled all those names right!), all friends of Skip, another good client of mine. These guys were fishing for meat to preserve for later consumption. Skip loves to can meat like pork and beef and despite my prior uninformed reservations about “canned meat,” he has made a fan out of me. I can’t think of a better product to have on hand in case of an emergency or just whenever. No need for refrigeration. You can make great pasta sauce, burritos/tacos as well as just good dishes using mashed potatoes and condensed soup. Skip told the guys they’d catch a limit (take a load off Fanny and you put the load right on me…) After a lot of hard fishing, we managed to do it. Luckily I had my rain pants on because I was elbow deep in fish fillets for a good 15 to 20 minutes. What a mess with fish full of bait and everything that goes along with it! I’m thrilled that my boats each have wash-down systems on board. I could have used a hosedown myself, but with 42 degree lake water, it wouldn’t have been a good idea. If you’re buying a new boat (hopefully a Crestliner from Silver Lake Marine – think about getting a washdown system installed to go along with your vinyl flooring. You won’t regret it if you like to fish lake trout.)
4/24 AM: Guided Larry and his buddy Jim today for a half day starting at 9 am. Not much to add to the reports here – we had another great double-digit day out there with plenty of gorgeous fish. All went back in the drink today. Jim does a lot of saltwater fishing and he really enjoys it. He loved the lake trout action today as well! A friend did well out deeper, so we gave that a quick couple shots. However we wound up having our best fishing in shallower. I’ve played around with super deep stuff on occasion in the past and sometimes it can be beyond compare, but overall I enjoy fishing shallower and getting more drops with the jigs.
Jim with a solid
4/25: Guided Steve and his wife Betsy for close to a full day today. We had forecasts calling for some strong southerly gusts. I also saw some more amenable forecasts – which do you believe? I usually go down the middle – I figure we’ll get some strong winds, but also some manageable ones, and that’s what we wound up with. It blew good in the AM when we started at 10 am, then was great for a few hours before it really cranked up around 3 pm. Steve also is a “catch ’em and eat ’em” guy and they wound up limiting out as well as releasing a few additional fish. They were stuffed with bait as has been the case all week. We only saw two other boats out today. It was difficult fishing with the heavy chop.
Steve with a laker
Dealing with a rough lake - almost time to head in and call it a day!
Some friends have asked me about all the lake trout harvest this year. The lake trout population is monitored in different ways – the main methods being the Diary Cooperator Program and regular standard cold water gill netting (done usually every 3 to 4 years on area cold water lakes.) The limit was raised around 6 or 7 (or maybe more) years ago from no more than 3 lake trout per person, up to no more than 5, in order to encourage some more harvest of fish. Fewer anglers are fishing the lakes and fewer fish are being kept as a percentage of the catch rates. The last few gill nettings have shown an abundant lake trout population. If numbers go down in the gillnets next year, we’ll likely see stocking numbers maintained. If they stay up or increase, we may see a stocking cut on Cayuga Lake. Lake trout tend to cannibalize other salmonids, so if we have too dense of a lake trout population, we may be hurting our rainbows, browns and salmon – so the logic goes. Predation from cormorants and poor quality or just bad timing of stocked fish can also lead to poor “silver fish” fishing.